When the world seems to be collapsing around us, it makes sense to want to give credit to the valiant folks who help keep things propped up. Seattle's arts community has more than its share of unsung warriors—the craftsmen behind the scenes who never get their due, the minimum-wage workers at the concessions counter selling Rice Krispies Treats to women in fur coats—but one group stands tall above all the rest, anonymous paragons of virtue without whom the very foundations of an already weakened theater would crumble. Let us send hearts and flowers this Valentine's Day to these soldiers, this yawning mass of champions who give all in the name of art and romance: Let us now praise the straight men who accompany their wives/girlfriends to musical theater.
You've seen them and, perhaps, pitied them. You've watched with sympathy as they made their weary way up the aisle at intermission, their beige cotton Dockers brushing past red velvet seats, hoping that they find comfort in a quick smoke or shared battle story with another veteran ("I'll never forget the time my old lady took me to Pippin. Never thought I'd come out alive. . . . "). You've witnessed them huddle in the rest room, sighing and splashing water on their faces, wondering how many more times that performer in the fitted vest is going to express his love through song. But have you ever stopped to salute the courage it takes for these men to keep the theater afloat as they do?
Consider the daunting range of productions our heroes have survived in the last five months alone. From September's Sondheim show (A Little Night Music), based on an Ingmar Bergman film and featuring people in period costume, to January's classic tunefest about an indomitable family in a Czarist Russia shtetl (Fiddler on the Roof), the journey for these staunch fellows cannot have been an easy one—the words "Ingmar Bergman" alone are enough to make your average straight guy blanch, and to foist "shtetl" on him as an entertainment option is just plain mean.
We won't even go into the shuddering fear that must have accompanied November's holiday fun; how many fine, stalwart men saw their lives pass before their eyes watching bewigged twins gambol about the court of King Henry VIII chirping, "You look just like me, and I look just like you!" in The Prince & the Pauper? This is true valor, ladies and gentlemen. Love has never seen greater sacrifice.